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Backpacker Magazine – January 2011

Trip Finder: Northwest

Your favorite Northwest hikes—from dayhikes to weekenders to multiday trips.

by: Jason D.B. Kauffman

Indian paintbrush on the Timberline Trail (Blaine Franger)
Indian paintbrush on the Timberline Trail (Blaine Franger)
Reader Expert Terence Lewis (Courtesy Photo)
Reader Expert Terence Lewis (Courtesy Photo)

Summit Lake Loop, CA
Lassen Volcanic National Park is known for its geology, but sparse crowds also make it a prime place to see bears, mule deer, and the elusive marten. See animals—and hit six lakes—on this 17.5-mile loop. From the Summit Lake trailhead, hike southeast to the junction with the Pacific Crest Trail. Follow the PCT northeast through the Grassy Swale, a long, flower-filled meadow frequented by hummingbirds. On the third day, wind around Rainbow Lake, Lower and Upper Twin Lakes, and Echo Lake.

WATERFALLS Eagle Creek-Tanner Butte Loop, OR
Earmark at least three days for this challenging 25-mile loop in Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge. From the Eagle Creek trailhead, you’ll gain 4,300 feet and link a series of waterfalls, including Punch Bowl Falls, which drops 25 feet into a wooded grotto, and 175-foot Tunnel Falls (named for the tunnel blasted behind the cascade). Sleep at 7½ Mile Campsite, less than a mile south of Tunnel Falls. Night two: Camp at Dublin Lake, a small pool located three miles north of Tanner Butte.

WILDFLOWERS Mt. Hood Timberline Trail, OR
Four solid days of kaleidoscopic wildflower displays? Believe it. This 36-mile point-to-point—from Cooper Spur to Elk Cove—rolls through glacier-melt-fed meadows ablaze with Indian paintbrush and purple lupine. (This route skips parts of the trail that were damaged in the 2006 blowout below Eliot Glacier). Extra time? You’ll be circumnavigating 11,249-foot Mt. Hood. Why not climb it? (Tackle the South Side route with beta at

Terence Lewis, 26, of Port Orchard, Washington, beelines to the Olympics most weekends. “Never underestimate the unpredictable weather,” he says. “Always carry raingear.”

Portland, Oregon, resident Derek Pettie, 37, packs Green Trails Maps when hiking in the Indian Heaven Wilderness. “Trail networks can be confusing here, so an accurate map is a must.”

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